National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity Holds Meeting For Recognition Reviews
NATIONAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE ON INSTITUTIONAL QUALITY AND INTEGRITY (NACIQI) HOLDS MEETING FOR RECOGNITION REVIEWS
The National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI) held a public meeting on June 25-26, 2012 in Alexandria, Virginia to review two compliance reports, consider petitions for renewal of recognition for 11 accrediting organizations and one state agency and consider one federal institution's petition for degree-granting authority. NACIQI is the advisory body that provides recommendations to the U.S. Secretary of Education on the recognition of accrediting organizations.
Under current rules, starting in 2010, both NACIQI and U.S. Department of Education (USDE) staff make recommendations to the senior Department official with regard to recognition status. The committee agreed with the recommendations in 12 of USDE's staff reports (available on the USDE Website). In the other cases, the committee voted to recognize rather than defer an accrediting organization, to deny rather than recognize an agency and to limit an accreditor's ability to accredit additional institutions.
A report of the committee's deliberations will likely be posted to the NACIQI Website later this summer.
BILL TO COMBAT VISA FRAUD BY UNACCREDITED INSTITUTIONS ADVANCES IN THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
On June 28, 2012, the Committee on the Judiciary of the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 3120, the "Student Visa Reform Act." Introduced by Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-California), the bill states that, for non-immigrant students to be granted a student visa, the Secretary of Homeland Security may require that these students attend an institution - college, university, language training program, seminary or conservatory - that is accredited by an accrediting organization recognized by USDE or is moving toward accreditation within the next three years.
The full House of Representatives is expected to consider this bill within the next several months.
DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY SEEKS TO CLARIFY REQUIREMENTS FOR ACCREDITATION OF ENGLISH-LANGUAGE PROGRAMS
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has issued Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) designed to clarify how college- and university-run English-language programs can demonstrate that they are covered by institutional accreditation.
The FAQs advise that, if the college or university offering the English-language program has institutional accreditation, a designated school official may provide evidence in the form of a letter, statement or certificate from the institutional accreditor (a regional or national accrediting agency recognized by the Department of Education) confirming that the program of study is under the umbrella of approved programs for which the institution has received accreditation. A signed statement by the school's owner or president, confirming that the English-language program of study is under the institution's governance, also will be required.
USDE GAINFUL EMPLOYMENT REGULATIONS OVERTURNED
On June 30, 2012, a U.S. District Judge overturned a key element of USDE's gainful employment regulations. The ruling blocks enforcement of regulations that were scheduled to become effective on July 1, 2012. Issued by USDE in June 2011, the regulations establish expectations with regard to acceptable levels of Title IV loan repayment and of student debt in relation to income.
District Court Judge Rudolph Contreras ruled that USDE had not provided a justification for the requirement that at least 35 percent of a program's former students repay their federal student loans, terming the requirement "arbitrary and capricious." While upholding a number of provisions in the regulations, he noted that because the majority of the related rules cannot stand without the debt measures, they will be vacated as well.
USDE has not announced whether it will appeal the judge's ruling or will establish another negotiated rulemaking to revise the gainful employment regulations.
USDE TO ESTABLISH NEGOTIATED RULEMAKING ON FEDERAL STUDENT AID PROGRAMS, WITH FOCUS ON DISTANCE EDUCATION
USDE published a Federal Register notice on May 1, 2012, announcing the intent to establish a negotiated rulemaking to prepare proposed regulations designed to prevent fraud within the context of technologies such as those used in distance education (see Federal Update #26).
An announcement of the agenda and meeting dates for the negotiated rulemaking committee, accompanied by a request for nominees to serve on the committee, is expected in the next few weeks.
USDE NOTICE OF PROPOSED RULEMAKING ON TEACHER PREPARATION ISSUES EXPECTED SOON
USDE is expected to soon publish a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) addressing teacher preparation issues including the TEACH Grant Program and assessment and reporting requirements for teacher education programs. The NPRM follows a negotiated rulemaking held by USDE from January-April 2012 that did not reach consensus on proposed teacher preparation regulations.
The NPRM will provide institutions, accrediting organizations and other interested parties with an opportunity to comment on USDE's regulatory proposals.